Blogging Through Team Cartus's Carpool Adventures

Carpool Log: Friday, July 25, 2008 – Change Your Underwear, Change the World

By TREVOR MACOMBER, Corporate Writer, Cartus Corp.

Ahh—back in the saddle again.

After a brief hiatus, Patrick and I resumed our carefree carpooling ways today. To his credit, Patrick didn't seem to hold my disappearing act of yesterday against me—although, now that I think about it, he did seem to keep me standing outside in the rain for a suspiciously long time this morning as we debated who should drive today.

Despite the occasionally torrential rain, the ride in was pretty smooth, with the only speed bump consisting of Patrick's putrid predilection for talk radio. He claims it was sports talk radio, and thus inherently acceptable under the universal Guy Code, but I noticed he changed the station pretty quickly after my observation.

To be fair, Patrick really seems to have come around to the idea of sharing his vehicle with others. In fact, he actually invited me to come with him when he left at lunchtime to get a haircut. I declined, naturally, because that's just creepy, but it shows he's making progress.

As for me, after this weeklong experiment, I'm think I'm just as inclined to continue carpooling as I ever was. When you consider my normal 50-mile round trip commute and the $4.40 per gallon gas prices in our area, the savings I'm reaping from sharing commuting responsibilities with just one other person approach $80 per month. That's like two Hawaiian shirts right there!

Yes, I know there's little chance of convincing Patrick to continue carpooling with me once I'm fully ensconced in my new zip code, but at least the environmentally sound seed has been planted in the formerly barren—but now richly fecund—recesses of his commuting soul.

It's like my grandmother always said: "Some people don't even change their underwear, so how can you expect them to change their very nature?" Very true Bubbe. However, I'm holding out hope that Patrick will prove you wrong—on both counts, preferably. (No wonder he has all those air fresheners hanging on his rearview mirror.)

Carpool Log: Friday, July 25, 2008 – Punched in the Face with a Spiked Oven Mitt

By PATRICK LEWIS, Senior Communications Specialist, Cartus Corp.

It seems that things are really starting to fall into place, just in time for this little experiment to end, which is perfect timing since the Yankees-Red Sox series starts tonight.

Both parties have been prompt in the morning and, even with the monsoon conditions yesterday, we have arrived at work on time. Trevor may need a little refresher course on Man Law here and there (since it's common knowledge that sports talk radio is compulsory for men), but I actually found myself compromising; I put on some Bob Marley for him, to which he did some unsanctioned dancing -- the only reason I didn't tell him to stop was that he has the rhythm of a bird with a broken wing, and it was just flat-out funny.

And the only reason I offered to have him accompany me for a haircut was because, much like you offer someone with bad breath a stick of gum, he kind of needs a haircut—and a shave. So, in the final analysis, a rough estimate says that I would save approximately $9 for every day that I don't drive, not including wear and tear on my car. To the uninitiated, that's a lot of juice boxes and ice cream for my kids, not to mention the tremendous environmental role model I can be for them.

Now for the payoff pitch. You're probably asking "would I do it again?"

The answer is, maybe, and that's about as close as you can get to a straight answer from me on anything. Considering that going into this, I thought that the experience would be akin to being punched in the face, hard, with a spiked oven mitt, "maybe" isn't quite as lukewarm as it seems. Overall, it wasn't bad, and even enjoyable at times. After Trevor's tremendously inaccurate characterization of me, it's doubtful that I would ever be able to find someone willing to carpool with me (except for those at the shallow, murky end of the carpool), but maybe, just maybe, I'll join the ranks of the environmentally, and fiscally, responsible.


Carpool Log: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 – Doubling Excuses and Weird Al

By PATRICK LEWIS, Senior Communications Specialist, Cartus Corp.

OK, so here's a new twist in carpool land: Trevor called and bailed on me today.

Apparently he had to close on a house or some nonsense like that, so I'm going solo today. Before ending our conversation, he left me with the cryptic comment that he might need to ask me a favor and "drop him off somewhere tomorrow." Not sure what that means, but isn't it a little bit early in this experiment to be asking for favors?

Today, I took to having my solitude back like a duck to water, so I guess I haven't been totally converted to the carpooling subculture yet. On the plus side, I got to rock out, without being judged, to the Go-Go's Greatest Hits (listen, I don't want to hear any grief about it, because they sold like a billion albums and nobody else likes them? Yeah, right.)

As for yesterday, even though I didn't drive, I arrived home earlier than usual, so the illusion of my life being adversely affected by carpooling was shattered. Go figure.

Oh yeah, as for the smell of Trevor's car? Oddly enough, there was no smell. At all. Very weird. It was almost like he was hiding something. I was figuring it would smell like a mixture of corn chips and patchouli, but nope, not a thing. Another pre-conceived notion bites the dust.

I'm driving tomorrow so I've got a surprise in store.... Let's just say I hope he likes the smell of melted crayons, sticking to things, and a semi-functional cassette player.

I'll leave it at that for now.

Carpool Log: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 – In a Modestly Wistful State

By TREVOR MACOMBER, Corporate Writer, Cartus Corp.

OK—full disclosure time. I didn't carpool today.

Heck, I didn't even go to work today. I actually debated asking Patrick to drive a few extra miles out of his way to drop off my girlfriend and me at our new house, but then decided it wouldn't be fair to my girlfriend to subject her to Patrick's early morning curmudgeonry. (I know "curmudgeonry" isn't a word, but I needed to invent one to more accurately describe Patrick's pre-10 a.m. personality, uhhh, "quirks.")

However, I have to say that while driving to the house alone this morning, I found myself—well, maybe "missing" isn't quite the right word—but certainly in a modestly wistful state of mind about my sudden dearth of commuting conversation.

Granted, there are only so many times a guy can hear about Posada's balky shoulder or Matsui's creaky knee before he goes insane, but at least it's been fun badmouthing other co-workers behind their backs. Plus, I suppose I can overlook the occasional Yankees monologue in light of the fact that Patrick actually offered to help us move later in the week. I assume he was being sarcastic, of course, but it was something.

In any case, I'm looking forward to resuming our co-commuter-ship tomorrow. I'm just hoping Patrick hasn't gotten re-acclimated to his lone-wolf status during my day off. Maybe I should bring an extra Frank Sinatra CD or something, just in case he starts getting uppity.


Carpool Log: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 – Doubling Excuses and Weird Al

By PATRICK LEWIS, Senior Communications Specialist, Cartus Corp.

Today is the first day that I am without my all-wheel-drive security blanket.

After being late yesterday, I made a Herculean effort to be ready and out the door to arrive on time at the park-and-ride. And guess what? Trevor was late…eight minutes late, but who's counting. What's up with that?

I decided to take the high road and not mention his tardiness. I think my silence let him know how disappointed I was in him. Anyway, if I'm late, this carpooling thing is a perfect cover. Simple math says that I can double my excuses by just swapping out my name for the other driver and BAM! I have a ready made excuse. Other than Trevor playing a Weird Al Yankovic song, Dare to Be Stupid, (I'll assume that it wasn't a veiled insult aimed at me) and changing lanes like he was being tased, everything went swimmingly.

Just a quick note on aesthetics: I noticed that Trevor's ride has manual windows and door locks, which I thought went out with the Edsel. Panic set in when, right around lunchtime, I grabbed the keys to my sports buggy, and realized that I didn't drive today. I didn't really need my car, as much as I wanted my car. Whatever. With all the money I saved today, I'll splurge on an ice cream and watch everyone else happily drive their cars.

Carpool Log: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 – Good to be the King

By TREVOR MACOMBER, Corporate Writer, Cartus Corp.

Well, I regained auto-autonomy today, and I have to say, carpooling is a far more palatable endeavor when you are literally in the driver's seat. To quote Mel Brooks, "It's good to be the king."

With the AC firmly in the off position, Patrick firmly in the passenger seat, and Weird Al firmly in the CD player, all was again right with the world. Of course, given the grimace on Patrick's face when he first entered the car, I'm not sure he necessarily felt the same way, but I assume such early morning moods are par for the course when you have kids. (Sticky little buggers, aren't they? How is it that their hands always seem to be covered in jam, even after getting out of the bath tub?)

I tried to cheer him up with a few jaunty tunes, but somehow the brilliant pop-parody stylings of Mr. Yankovic failed to soothe Patrick's a.m. anguish. Come to think of it, they probably won't do much for him on our return trip, either. A couple more days like this and I might actually start to believe he doesn't like Weird Al! (As if that were even possible.) At least I was able to get us to work on time today, though judging by Patrick's reaction, you'd think he had no idea that my clock is almost 10 minutes fast. I guess I should probably mention that next time I drive.


Carpool Log: Monday, July 21, 2008 – Late Already, The Cold and Robert Goulet

By TREVOR MACOMBER, Corporate Writer, Cartus Corp.

So it turns out that Patrick drives neither an SUV nor a minivan, but instead, a rather sporty red Subaru Impreza.

Naturally, I didn't expect him to handle it quite like the numerous Japanese imports you see today being driven by various idiot adolescents permanently channeling The Fast and the Furious, but to his credit, we made it to work with plenty of time to spare—"plenty of time to spare," that is, if work started half an hour later, which it doesn't, which means we were late.

Of course, we might actually have arrived on time if he hadn't forced me to read and memorize a list of "mandatory carpooling suggestions" before we left the commuter lot.

Look, I'm all for driving together in semi-companionable silence, but no touching the climate controls? It was like an icebox in there! Aren't old people always supposed to be cold? Oh well, I suppose the environment is worth the occasional bout with frostbite and a hairy eyeball from your boss.

Plus, who knew that the resonant strains of Robert Goulet's silky baritone could possibly prove so revivifying, even at eight o'clock in the morning? Granted, it was kind of weird listening to Christmas music in July...

Carpool Log: Monday, July 21, 2008 – Smooth Sailing... With Jimmy Buffet

By PATRICK LEWIS, Senior Communications Specialist, Cartus Corp.

OK, so Day One wasn't so bad.

Since I was in a pretty good mood this morning, I relaxed some of my "carpooling rules." Not sure why I was so upbeat this morning. Maybe it was teaching my four-year-old daughter how to ride a bike over the weekend (she's a natural). Maybe it was the musical stylings of Robert Goulet.

Or maybe it was because I felt slightly bad for being seven minutes late and receiving an "Um…where ARE you?" call from my carpool mate, Trevor. Ooops.

And I thought it was supposed to be ME who was crabby in the morning! That's the trouble with kids these days, always in a rush to get somewhere. Other than that, it was smooth sailing -- a little light conversation, Trevor respected all climate control, audio, and window/door-lock restrictions, and I had complete freedom because I drove.

The only downside to the trip was the second-degree corneal burns I sustained from looking directly at Trevor's, um, "colorful" Hawaiian shirt. That thing is so loud it makes Jimmy Buffet look like a pilgrim. I'll wear a welder's mask next time. We'll see how things go when I lose control of the situation tomorrow. Trevor is driving …!


Carpool Log: Sunday, July 20, 2008 – Questions of Freedom and Rules to Live By (While Carpooling)

By PATRICK LEWIS, Senior Communications Specialist, Cartus Corp.

I have my reasons, real or imagined (we'll see), for approaching this "carpooling thing" with apprehension.

For one thing, I'm not a "morning person"…never have been, never will be. As much as I love my wife and children, I don't do a whole lot of speaking to them in the morning, and they've learned not to expect it. The last thing I need is some young whippersnapper going on and on about this great new alternative literary newsletter he found, or this really great off-off-off-off-Broadway play that he read about, and I certainly don't want to hear about the Red Sox being in first place.

Having grown up just outside New York City, and being a lifelong Yankees fan, if I have to hear about the Sawks winning The Series, I'm bringing the minivan, and that's not a threat, that's a promise.

Plus, what about my freedom, my precious freedom? What if I want to wake up late and take my time going into work? What if I want to drive around at lunch looking at upscale properties to purchase and don't have my car? What if I want to sing along to my Robert Goulet Christmas CD even though it's July?

OK, those things probably aren't going to happen (well, maybe the Goulet thing, but that's only because he was a musical genius), but still…my "freedom" is at risk. Lastly, I can't say why, but I can't shake this feeling that Trevor's car is going to smell weird…mark my words. I hear he has some generic Oldsmobuick (in the words of Fletch), so I'm concerned.

But, since I'm always telling my kids to "just try it, if you don't like it you don't have to do it again," I suppose I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't give carpooling a shot. In the spirit of eco-friendliness, saving cash, and sharing this important social experiment with the world, I will forge on.

I'm not sure of carpooling etiquette, but first thing I'm planning on doing is handing Trevor a guidebook: Rules for Driving with Me in the Morning. I just can't take any chances.

1) Please don't speak to me, it's neither required, nor wanted.

2) If you should happen to speak to me or ask me a question, please don't be offended if I don't answer or just grunt back. Or, be offended…your choice.

3) Don't touch the radio.

4) Don't touch the climate controls.

5) Don't eat in my car. I have enough problems with my kids eating in the car and shooting juiceboxes all over the place. Plus, you're probably one of those weirdos that eats soup for breakfast.

6) Don't comment on my driving, as comments are neither welcomed nor responded to.

7) Don't look at your watch every two minutes, I'll get you there on time.

8) Don't bring a bunch of bags, changes of clothes, books, etc. You're not moving in, and bringing all your "baggage," emotional or otherwise, will decrease my gas efficiency.

9) Don't sing along with anything on the radio or CD. This isn't a campfire, Junior.

10) Sit back and enjoy the flight, ETA to Cartus Corporation: 45 minutes, thank you for flying Just Sit There and Shut Your Piehole Airlines.

Carpool Log: Sunday, July 20, 2008 – Top Concerns: Sporting Affiliations, Memories of "Big Maude"

By TREVOR MACOMBER, Corporate Writer, Cartus Corp.

I'm a little apprehensive about carpooling this week. It's not the newness of the thing—I carpool frequently and have had only positive experiences—it's just that I've never carpooled with an avowed Yankees fan before. (Growing up just north of Boston and attending college in Maine pretty much assures one of lifelong "Red Sox Nation" status.) I'm not sure what to expect. Thankfully, the Sox-Yanks series doesn't begin until the Friday after our last carpool, so at least there won't be any added tension from the thrill of victory, agony of defeat side of things.

I'm curious about what kind of car Patrick drives. If his baseball affiliations are any indication, presumably it's some sort of top-heavy SUV—you know, a lot of power at the outset, but prone to rollovers and spontaneous combustion. Maybe not, though; he does have three kids. Perhaps he's the Mr. Mom type, with a pimped-out minivan full of flat screens, stowaway seating, and Dodge knows what else. As for myself, I roll in a 2003 Chevy Cavalier. Status-wise, it's a significant step down from the 1974 Cadillac Eldorado convertible I drove up until January of last year. But at seven miles to the gallon, "Big Maude" (as I affectionately called her) wasn't exactly a lean machine.

Heck, I'd probably be paying more for gas than for rent each month if I still had that beautiful beast. And those plumes of exhaust that belched from the tailpipe every time I pressed down on the gas pedal will probably keep me carpooling till I retire to make up for the damage I've done to the environment already.

But hey, if I can convince the isolation-fancying Patrick to extend his ridesharing endeavors beyond our week together, perhaps I can cut my penance in half and start driving by myself again when I'm, say, 50 or so. And if he gets one other person to start carpooling, and that person gets one other person to start, and then that person gets someone else into it…well, I'm no mathematician, but that's at least 50 or 60 people right there reducing who knows who many jillions of tons of pollution!

So maybe our sporting ideologies are somewhat at odds, and granted, our personal styles aren't exactly cut from the same cloth, but that doesn't mean we can't unite in support of this single, worthy cause. Yankees fan or not, when we're done with this little experiment, I'm hoping Wally's not the only green monster around. I hope he doesn't like country music…